Last Updated on December 21, 2016
#Uncommon. That’s the hashtag the Arkansas athletic department promotes across its social channels.
I remember the first time I saw the hashtag. The other hashtags around the SEC – things like #12Man, #Dawgs and #WarEagle – all made sense to me. But #Uncommon? I didn’t get it.
Then I visited the University of Arkansas for the first time this fall. And now I get it.
I’ll admit that Arkansas was pretty low on my “must-visit” list. In fact, I visited 11 other SEC campuses first. Then, this fall I was invited to speak to the athletic department as part of their Women’s Speaker Series, so I booked my trip to Fayetteville the weekend of the Ole Miss game.
First on the agenda upon arriving in Fayetteville with my husband, who is a fellow sports writer, was touring the facilities. I expected SEC caliber facilities, but I didn’t expect to be so impressed.
You can flip through the slideshow at the end for a full tour, but having toured dozens of DI facilities across the country, here’s what stood out to me.
Fowler Family Baseball and Track Training Center
Indoor football training facilities are all the rage, but Arkansas has the most impressive indoor baseball facility I’ve seen in person. We walked in, flipped on the lights and there it was – a full infield indoors. #Uncommon indeed.
As someone who grew up playing softball, I pay close attention to the softball facilities when I’m on tours. Arkansas has one of the only dedicated indoor facilities I’ve ever seen for softball. Not only do the ladies not have to share their indoor facility with baseball – they had their facility before baseball got its facility.
Fred W. Smith Football Center
The 80,000 square foot football facility at Arkansas has everything you would expect – an indoor practice field, locker room, weight room, training room, meeting rooms, coaches’ offices and a student-athlete lounge.
A couple of things stood out to me about this facility from a design perspective. Most noticeably, the exterior which is predominantly glass. The previous weight room at Arkansas was all glass, so although the new building cut somewhat into the view, they wanted to maintain the transparency of the building at night. I can imagine it’s a pretty impressive sight for recruits.
And then there’s the red carpet running through the facility. I was told on my tour that the red carpet has a recruiting “route” theme. It begins at the weight room where a student-athlete trains and develops, runs through the football operation facility out to the stadium where they perform, blending into the red brick path just outside the glass walls of the training facility.
Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium
We also had the opportunity to speak with athletic director Jeff Long about the upcoming expansion and upgrades coming to Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, which will connect the East and West sides of the stadium. Approximately 4,800 seats will be added in the North End Zone and new standing room only spaces will be added. Existing clubs and suites will be updated throughout the stadium, along with the addition of new club areas and loge boxes.
The #Uncommon experience I had at Arkansas goes beyond the facilities, so check back soon for another post on the rest of my experience at Arkansas.
Until then, check out this slideshow of my complete facilities tour in Fayetteville.